Dark Messiah of Might & Magic - PC - Review
Dark Messiah of Might and Magic marks a real departure for the long-running RPG franchise. Whereas other entries were pretty much straight forward RPG, Dark Messiah puts itself more in the “thinking man’s FPS” type of quest, employing open-ended RPG elements and cinematic FPS action. Not only that, but the game also utilizes the Source engine, making for some truly impressive physics and nice graphical effects. Unfortunately, while the game almost nails the formula, it falls victim to a bevy of technical flaws and bugs that render the game unplayable at times. Dark Messiah has a lot of good ideas going in, but ultimately gets bogged down with stability issues.
Dark Messiah of Might and Magic puts you in the shoes of Sareth, a servant of the wizard Phenrick, as he embarks on a mission that snowballs into an epic adventure. You begin with some fairly simple skills; you have basic weapons know-how and you have a night-vision ability to let you see in the dark. As you progress, you gain more abilities depending on how you play the game.
Dark Messiah allows you to choose your own paths in terms of character development. You can be a spell-caster, fighter, assassin, or archer. However, the game is fairly open in terms of how you can upgrade your character’s attributes. You can set them up with some healing magic abilities and still beef up your melee combat rating, effectively making you a paladin-type character which is pretty nice, or many other combinations.
Another element that’s worth noting in Dark Messiah is the environments, which are quite interactive and allow for some cool death sequences. You can kick enemies into spiked walls, and collapse platforms onto groups of foes, making for some truly inventive moments while taking out your enemies. The game gives you a lot of choice while fighting your battles. In some situations it is possible to take your enemy out in a matter of seconds by properly using the environment, while not utilizing it could take you a long time. On the same note, it’s pretty fun to run up behind an enemy standing next to a ledge and kick them off.
The game’s multiplayer portion can also be fun, featuring Deathmatch modes as well as the Crusader mode. You begin by choosing your side (Human or Undead) and then from several pre-created classes: Priest, Mage, Warrior, Assassin, and Archer. Each character has their own abilities, so whatever your playing style is you’ll be able to utilize it to its potential. Assassins actually have an ability that lets them mask themselves as a member of the opposing team to sneak in for the kill, a good move for deceptive players.
However, not all is so sunny in Dark Messiah. The single-player campaign begins to lose steam before too long. After the marvel of the initial few areas, it feels like the game drones on. While the concept of choice is used quite strongly here, it still falls into the realm of boredom after the first couple of hours.
Also, the game suffers from some very nasty stability issues. The game would frequently crash, as things as rudimentary as changing a sound or video option would cause the game to go into a freak-out and lock up the review PC. About three out of five times the game was booted up, it would lock up. Arkane Studios is currently trying to address the game’s bugginess in future patches, but for people who picked up the retail copy (or bought it off Steam for that matter) for 50 bucks, it sure can be disappointing when the game doesn’t even load up.
Graphically, Dark Messiah looks good, benefiting from what the Source Engine has to offer. Characters have the same “life-like without being creepy” facial expressions that have become a staple of the engine and the environments are very detailed and extremely interactive. The game takes advantage of Bloom lighting and several other good looking graphical effects to make it shine. However, the engine does take some nasty framerate hits at times, something that seems like a polish issue more than anything else.
The sound is also quite good. The voice acting is pretty decent as are the sound effects, and the score ties in with the mood of the game nicely.
Dark Messiah of Might and Magic is a disappointment in that it shoots for the moon, but falls victim to itself and its own incompleteness. Maybe with substantial patching, the game might be worth a look.
Review Scoring Details for Dark Messiah of Might and Magic
Dark Messiah gives you a ton of choices when it comes how you approach your battles, and lets you choose how you want to create your character through the building of attributes. The game also makes great use of physics through the Source engine, making for some cool death sequences for your enemies. However, the game succumbs to serious stability issues, and the single-player campaign dwindles after a couple of hours.
Dark Messiah looks pretty good, once again benefiting from the Source engine. The textures are pretty impressive, as are the facial details and animation. The game does fall prey to some nasty framerate hits.
The music is very good and sets the mood nicely for the game, and the voice acting does the job well.
The multiplayer section is pretty fun, offering unique class-based combat and allowing for tons of possibilities when fighting online.
While the game does has some great ideas, they don’t really come to full fruition, leaving the game feeling somewhat unfinished.
Dark Messiah feels like a missed opportunity, with some huge ideas but a definite lack of polish.